Saturday, June 26, 2010


Aloha everyone,

The response to this blog since it began earlier this month has been overwhelming and humbling, especially since I began it on a whim largely to keep my mind from going idle!

But as many of you already know, I began working as the daytime police reporter for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on June 21. So I'm going to put this blog in the drawer in order to concentrate on my new job.

Some have asked what's going to happen to IntheHale, my Twitter account. Good question! In the whirlwind of the last few weeks, I honestly have not given it much thought.

One possibility, I suppose, might be to convert it into a forum dedicated to coverage of police news in Honolulu. But I need to think about that a little bit more and, of course, speak with my editors.

Meanwhile, thank you for your support and encouragement the last few weeks. It won't be forgotten.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why the Donohue pick makes sense

The selection of former Police Chief Lee Donohue to be the seven-month successor to Charles Djou makes sense politically for the other eight members of the Council.

Here's a guy they all know that's both respected and grounded. He knows the city and has managed one of its largest departments. And as Council Vice Chairman Nestor Garcia pointed out, Donohue will be able to provide insight on public safety issues just as the city is starting to plan its hosting of the APEC conference in November 2011.

Donohue has said he doesn't intend to run for the seat in the fall. And whether he chooses to use this position in the future as a springboard to other office or not, he's an established person in the community who doesn't need to make a name for himself. He won't feel a need to make waves.

"Reviewing the tape," it appears there really was a split among the eight going into the meeting. It was a fascinating and dizzying 45 minutes. First, Jonathan Lai was formally nominated by Ann Kobayashi. She made a pitch that Djou's recommendation of Lai should matter.

Ikaika Anderson then got the resolution switched to replace Lai's name with Board of Education member Donna Ikeda. Romy Cachola then swapped out Ikeda's name with that of former Rep. Brian Yamane. Garcia then swapped out Ikeda's name with that of former Rep. Carl Takamura.

But it appeared apparent that none of those choices were going to get the necessary five votes. Then Gary Okino swapped out Takamura's name with Donohue's.

Both Kobayashi and Cachola spoke favorably of Donohue. Kobayashi even brought up rumors that Mayor Mufi Hannemann was behind Donohue's pick but added that she felt the former chief could act independently. Garcia and Tam spoke in support of Donohue as well.

Donohue's nomination was approved 8-0.

The whole process was quite a contrast from spring 2002, the last time the Council had to pick a successor.

Then-Council Chairman John DeSoto circulated a resolution with the name of Central Oahu community leader Darrlyn Bunda to replace Rene Mansho. It was signed by six colleagues. The only person not to sign was Steve Holmes, who felt the process should have been open to all members in the community. DeSoto insisted that he'd gone around talking to colleagues and Bunda appeared to be a consensus choice among the people who'd applied for the job.

Current Council Chairman Todd Apo said today's open meeting laws would have barred him from conducting an informal query as DeSoto did.

Here are links to stories Robbie Dingeman and I did then:

And here's B.J. Reyes' story on Wednesday's deliberations:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Handicapping the Council District 4 Pick

The City Council's Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee last week moved out six candidates as "finalists" to hold the Council District 4 seat warm until January.

The eight Council members will take a final vote shortly after 10 a.m. and the new member will play a key role in determining what will happen during a final vote of the $1.82 billion operating budget later in the meeting.

Let's first dispense with the 20 other folks presumably still in the running. There are some very knowledgeable people among them who would do a solid job and bring a fresh perspective to the council such as Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board Chairman Greg Knudsen and "bike mom" Natalie Iwasa.

But here are the realities of the situation. Last week's meeting lasted less than three hours when many expected it to go much longer.

That's because only six of the 26 candidates (27 if you include Marsha Joyner, who asked that her name be withdrawn from consideration) were asked questions by their potential Council colleagues. And only those six became finalists.

Like it or not (and I'm not sure where I stand), there was an efficiency to the process. I'm guessing it was fostered by the committee's chairman, Todd Apo, who also happens to be the council chair.

That said, here are my educated odds:

Jonathan Lai, 3-2: Two weeks ago, no one had heard of him. But Djou has publically recommended him (even on national TV!)and privately lobbied his colleagues for him. It's clear Lai's in line politically with now-Congressman Charles. Keep in mind also that Apo, the council chair, is close to Djou. So it was really no surprise when Apo called Lai's name first "out of respect" for his former colleague.

It's his name on the resolution coming to the floor. So any Council member wanting someone one else will need to stave off a vote for Lai and try to force a vote on that other person first. Lai's also stressed he doesn't want to rock the boat, and Council members certainly have enough differences going into the last seven months of the term.

Lee Donohue, 3-1: The former police chief is certainly the most widely known of the candidates. And he is said to have the backing of some powerful friends at city hall. This would also be a politically safe pick since few would fault them for choosing a former chief with few blemishes on his record. I'm getting mixed signals about his future. This could be a nice feather in his cap following decades at HPD. But I've also heard speculation he might use this as a springboard for other political office.

Lori Wingard, 7-2: Djou's former chief of staff, knows the district well and knows the subtleties of the position better than the other candidates. Wingard also knows .well the roles different people play both on the second and third floor of Honolulu Hale. But she and Djou had a falling out. And she's not ruled out a run for the office on her own this fall, which some Council have stated as a preference for the temp pick.

Donna Ikeda, 8-1: Current Board of Education member and former East Honolulu state senator. She has some cred, but Council members might worry about blow-back for pulling out a sitting BOE member during the last six months of her term.

Brian Yamane and Carl Takamura. 15-1: Neither have been in elected office for a number of years and would appear to be longshots. They may have been put into the finals list just out of respect for their former positions, or possibly as compromise picks in case Council members can't agree on any of the others.

Here's my story from last Friday's Advertiser on the last Exec Affairs Committee meeting:

I'll be live-blogging this tomorrow for those of you who can't be there live or watch it on Channel 54.

Aloha Kakou to the Hale!

Aloha everyone!

I've decided to start a blog!

PangintheHale is essentially an extension of my @IntheHale Twitter account and will expand on the themes and goals I set there.

Upon returning to the City Hall beat about 14 months ago, I started @IntheHale as a new tool with which to engage followers of city hall news to accompany stories I wrote for the newspaper.

Like my Twitter account, PangintheHale will stay focused almost exclusively on the subject of letting the audience know the happenings at Honolulu Hale (aka City Hall).

The nearly 600 followers of the account know that during Council meetings and other serious proceedings at City Hall, their Twitter accounts are going to get blasted with updates about what's going on.

It's not for everyone, and while having lots of followers would be sweet, that's secondary to ensuring those who seriously want a steady appetite of City Hall news get it.

It's what I do. If you want to know what's happening with my personal life, friend me on my Facebook account.

Since I am currently not working for an organized news organization, I can now refer to stories by all media outlets on the island. I'm not going to try to take ownership for everything that shows up here and on Twitter. We'll cite (and credit) the new Star-Advertiser, the old Advertiser, the old Star-Bulletin, Pacific Business News, the TV stations and other sources, including what's put out by people in the form of press releases.

What's more, as a columnist/blogger now more than a reporter, I can inject a little bit of insight while trying to maintain some level of objectivity. That's a new endeavor for me and I admit it'll be somewhat of a trial-and-error situation.

But other folks I've followed and respected through the years, among them Richard Borreca and Jerry Burris, have managed to provide analytical columns while maintaining a level of objectivity.

Further, being fair and objective has been the hallmark over my 23 years of reporting. I've staked my reputation on it.

Having a column/blog also allows for more interaction with readers. I've always had good feedback via phone calls and emails and expect to continue that dialogue both here and on Twitter.

I owe much to my editors and colleagues at all the publications where I've worked. And I'm very grateful that the owners of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser have chosen to keep open the online archives of both the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser which provides much-needed reference for everyone in our community.

Over the past 16 years, I've had the good fortune and honor to work for Honolulu's two dailies. Many of those people -- mentors, colleagues and friends -- are coming together this week to form the Star-Advertiser. I wish them nothing but the best on their new endeavor.

But after a career in which more than a majority of my time has been spent covering city and county governments, I still have a little bit to contribute to the discussion.

So I'll continue on for now, at least until I figure where my career path will take me next.